“I am happy to be here today,” Mindy said prior to a media conference at the Village in North Bay.
Mindy was joined by her small partner Mork at the event.
The three-foot tall couple was the centre of attention as Canadore College introduced the unique Apple Robot which are part of a new research initiative launched Monday afternoon.
"The robots are a tool that will help us increase engagement with seniors and as many of the speakers here have addressed the issue of social isolation for seniors," said George Burton, President at Canadore College.
"It is a very active tool we hope to employ through the research project and how best that interaction should occur, what type of programs should these robots be loaded with, how those interactions should be scheduled because robots have a range of activities that are possible. We are going to find out which ones work best with our population here and again try to prove that seniors have with technology and humans together as a combined effort to address the issue of isolation with our seniors."
In particular, the Village will investigate through a new research project entitled “The Use of Companion Social Robots with Older Adults: A Pilot Study Examining Impacts on Social Isolation, Social Inclusion, and Perceived Loneliness."
“Older adults living in retirement residences or affordable housing will work with students from the Canadore’s Health, Human Care and Wellness programs on this project,” said Dr. Anna-Liisa Mottonen, Social Sciences faculty and Primary Investigator.
“With the physical distancing required during the pandemic, these problems are likely to be exacerbated.”
The Village Collective Impact Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizon’s for Seniors Program. The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTOERO) Districts 43 and 44 are collaborating with The Village on this project.
“District 43 of the Retired Teachers of Ontario is pleased to be partners with District 44 and Canadore in this project,” said Doug Bolger, District 43 President.
“RTOERO has identified social isolation as an important concern for our senior population. We feel this project has the potential to provide significant research on the use of robots to help create meaningful interaction for seniors in long-term care settings and other areas. The RTOERO Foundation has also focused its research and funding on geriatric training in the medical field and the issue of social isolation.”
The project is expected to begin in early March in two retirement homes in the North Bay area.